Wire thieves hit Pierce County highways again

For the third time in two weeks, thieves stole wire from state highways in Pierce County, according to the Washington State Department of Transportation. Yesterday, crews discovered thieves took wire from the State Route 410 weigh station in Buckley.
Last week, thieves disabled the lighting system on the off-ramp from westbound SR 512 to SR 161 in Puyallup. SR 16’s lighting system from Center Street to Union Avenue was also disabled when thieves stole 6,500 feet of copper wire. SR 16 has suffered seven thefts since November — the most recent discovered on Jan. 18.
Since December 2006, the financial loss including labor and materials for WSDOT’s Olympic Region which covers Pierce, Thurston, Kitsap, Mason, Jefferson, Grays Harbor and Clallam counties is now estimated at over $189,000. Money to replace stolen wire comes from the same pool of money budgeted for all maintenance activities at WSDOT.
WSDOT’s maintenance and operations budget breaks into three categories:
Real-time operations — The highest priority in maintenance and operations is keeping roadways open and safe for drivers. WSDOT does this by responding to traffic-impacting incidents, such as collisions and weather- related events.
Preventative maintenance — Keeping WSDOT’s entire infrastructure in good working order requires routine inspections and follow-up actions. All bridges, highways, signals, signs and other highway maintenance features are subject to scheduled maintenance.
Unexpected emergency repairs — When culverts get clogged and flooding results or potholes develop on I-5, WSDOT maintenance crews respond and make the appropriate fix. Though WSDOT can’t predict when and where these will occur, they plan and prepare for the unexpected.
WSDOT and the Washington State Patrol need the public’s assistance raising awareness of this type of crime. According to WSDOT, thieves have gone to great lengths to steal wire, even staging work zones to provide the opportunity, time and cover they need to rip out the wires. Motorists can help by reporting suspicious work zones to law enforcement.
Motorists who have information regarding wire-theft along a state highway are encouraged to call 1-866-976-WIRE (9473). If drivers encounter a theft in progess, they should dial 9-1-1. For more information on wire-theft, please visit http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/maintenance/material .